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UA/Star Alliance: 2024 Consolidated Mileage/Status/Challenge Runs help needed

Old Jan 1, 2024, 10:15 pm
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UA/Star Alliance: 2024 Consolidated Mileage/Status/Challenge Runs help needed

Old Jan 1, 2024, 10:13 pm
  #1  
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UA/Star Alliance: 2024 Consolidated Mileage/Status/Challenge Runs help needed

On behalf to the Mileage Run Moderator team, I would like to express our thanks to the many FlyerTalkers who have risen to the challenge and helped so many members with their helpful suggestions.

‘Please follow the instructions for posting in this thread which can be found in the wiki. DO NOT CREATE A NEW THREAD

These consolidates threads made managing the year end traffic much smoother.

Hopefully, all were successful with their runs.

Pat89339 on behalf of the Mileage Run Moderator team
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Old Jan 2, 2024, 8:32 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
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New year, time to get your PQFs in early.





DEN-CYS $60.10 1 PQF 47 PQP
LAA4AADN with a $50 base fare.
There is also a cheaper fare published (LAA4AABN - $45 base fare) but not pricing.

This flight is also available for 5k miles + $5.60 in X/XN netting 1 PQF and 50 PQP which is arguably the better deal.

Some other interesting award PQF run candidates in saver 5.5-6k + $5.60 in X/XN - 1 PQF 55 PQP
MEX-IAH
LAS-LAX (~$75 cash fare)
LAX-SFO (~$75 cash fare)

Interestingly enough the MEX-IAH cash fares are much higher making the saver award a much better deal per PQF.
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Old Jan 3, 2024, 9:38 pm
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
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Might need to ask this in a different forum but with Deltas changes i'm strongly considering switching to United for 1K. What's the best way to keep and get 1K. Are they generous to domestic fliers or are partners the way to go etc? Or can someone point me in the right direction?
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Old Jan 4, 2024, 10:30 am
  #4  
 
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Originally Posted by Jj15
Might need to ask this in a different forum but with Deltas changes i'm strongly considering switching to United for 1K. What's the best way to keep and get 1K. Are they generous to domestic fliers or are partners the way to go etc? Or can someone point me in the right direction?
Try to stick to preferred partners. You'll earn PQP's faster - Earn United MileagePlus Premier qualifying credit on partner airlines

If you're going to try to qualify with premium economy or business fares, be wary of the PQP cap (more info on the page I linked).
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Old Jan 4, 2024, 2:54 pm
  #5  
 
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Originally Posted by Jj15
Might need to ask this in a different forum but with Deltas changes i'm strongly considering switching to United for 1K. What's the best way to keep and get 1K. Are they generous to domestic fliers or are partners the way to go etc? Or can someone point me in the right direction?
Partners if your goal is to spend the least to get there. Finding ~ 2 PQP/$ shouldn't be too difficult and maybe with a couple award tickets from the miles you can get the 4 PQF minimum on UA easily. Some of my favorite routes are premium economy Lufthansa flights (ORD-FRA-DEL/MAA/JNB) and regular economy or economy flex on Air Canada (SFO-YVR-SYD). Occasionally I've seen good Y fares on Swiss too like ORD-ZRH. I could've sworn I once saw Air India and Turkish fares for ~$600 that yielded ~1200 PQP. You're looking at anywhere from $9k-$12k in spend to keep status, which is half of what you'd need if you did it through united. The inhibitor here is the PQP segment cap UA imposes on preferred partners.

A bonus is that UA miles from flying airline partners are calculated differently, where you get the full distance-based mileage * cabin bonuses * UA status bonuses, typically much higher than the fare multiplier that UA has if you booked through them. For instance I've got a trip that has me earning 1.886 PQP / $ and 19.29 miles / $ which is much higher than the 0.95 PQP / $ and 9 miles / $ I'd get through United. The downside is that flying partner doesn't count towards BiS miles for million miler status on UA if that's your thing.
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 12:44 am
  #6  
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This post focuses on my experience flying basic economy (BE) fares on United towards the end of last year. I was hesitant to book a BE fare, so want to assure others that it’s a much better experience than I expected.

For the last three months or so, I decided to generate as many lifetime miles as possible and as inexpensively as I could. As I said, I was hesitant to fly on a BE fare, mainly because everything I've read on FlyerTalk seems to focus on the limitations and downside. Spoiler alert: it wasn't nearly as bad as I expected.

For purposes of full disclosure, I am a lifetime 1k, so many of the posted restrictions about checked bags, boarding priority, etc. didn't apply to me or wouldn't have had I checked a bag! I use LAX for almost all flights, though I occasionally look at ONT, BUR and SNA for deals.

As I was trying to generate as many LT miles as possible, I flew many international flights. I found very good fares to SIN (4), LHR (4), and NRT (3). I also took a trip to DXB. I spent time in MIA, FLL and MCO. I was only able to fly to Hawaii once. Florida generated the best value in terms of cpm; DXB and SIN provided the most miles.

When I report a cpm for some flights below, I will give two numbers; the first is the full ticket cost, which is the metric that I favor; I also give the cpm based on PQPs in parentheses.

For me, fares to SIN were high: almost twice what I paid in 2018/19: I wish those days would return. Nevertheless, it wasn’t too difficult to find fares that priced under five cpm; flights to Florida were even better value.

As I was filled with dread about flying on a BE fare, I wanted to adhere strictly to all the rules, so bought a Thule Landmark 60L travel pack from Amazon, which met the carry on and personal item criteria for United. It was more than enough space for everything that I needed: mask, pounce with electronic adapters and cables, a change or two of clothes, compression socks, a neck pillow, slippers, etc.

Trips, distances, prices and cpms
I made 20 trips in total from late September through mid-December. The shortest generated 4,434 miles (LAX/MCO/LAX) at 3.108 (2.266) cpm; the longest gave me 20,349 miles (LAX/DEN/SFO/SIN/SFO/SEA/LAX) at 4.495 (3.833) cpm; the trips averaged 11,022 miles.

In terms of cpm, the best was 2.931 (2.105) for LAX/EWR/PBI/EWR/IAD/LAX; the most expensive cost me 6.029 (5.137) for LAX/NRT/LAX; the average was 4.739 (3.612) cpm.

Fare buckets
I flew a total of 220,445 miles involving 70 segments in BE; an additional ten segments priced in the G (NRT) or W/K (real K for DXB) buckets. So sixteen of the trips were on N fare or the international equivalent; four (NRT, 3, and DXB) ended up being in the G (NRT) or W/K (DXB) fare bucket. I used these non-N fares to upgrade to PP or to Polaris (DXB on a W fare), using points that would likely expire in January. I didn't miss an upgrade. Here's what I have learned.

Carry-on baggage
I expected a lot of scrutiny, but it never happened, not once. I probably could have used my regular carry-ons if I wanted to. I suspect that those in the final boarding group had a much different experience.

Boarding
Boarding happened completely as advertised; my 1k status let me pre board, even though the boarding pass, electronic or paper, made it clear that I was fly on a BE fare.

My experience with United is one of inconsistency and employees not knowing what they’re supposed to do. I was expecting pushback about boarding early with a BE fare. It never happened.

Seating: much better than expected
Here I expected to be in middle seats for every segment. It typically was not the case. I was surprised. I am lucky in the sense that I have no problem sleeping on planes, so in this regard my experience may not be typical. Finally, I never paid for a seat assignment. I also sat in a window or aisle seat for well more than half of all segments.

Of the seventy segments on an N fare, I was assigned an aisle seat 13 times; a middle seat 29 times and a window seat on 28 occasions. Although seat assignments are apparently immutable, I was able to use the app to change a middle seat to a window; I took this action 11 times. Once I moved myself to an E+ seat. There was no cost. There were two times that the system moved me from the back to the front about 30 minutes before boarding started. (presumably due to a tight connection). On three occasions a gate agent moved me, unsolicited, from a middle seat to a window (2) or an aisle. Things ended up with my having an aisle on 13 segments of the 70 segments; a middle seat on 16 (three on SIN/SFO) and a window 41 times.

CPU upgrades happened on an N fare
I was upgraded to domestic first twice on an "N" fare. I was shocked too; however, these upgrades occurred on one of the hub safaris I took to get from LAX to SFO (through LAS, SEA or DEN) the on to SIN. Here’s what I discovered.

International fares price in a K or L bucket. They are still BE fares, with all the warnings on the website, boarding pass, etc.; however, they are described as CPU eligible when booked. A few days before departure, I appeared on the upgrade list, presumably right above somebody with platinum status. However, once I checked in, I would be unceremoniously kicked off the upgrade list and back with the riffraff where I belonged. One interesting point is that if I am on the upgrade list as part of an international itinerary and a CPU sweep occurs before the 24 hour checkin window, the system doesn't care if you're on a discounted fare: I was moved to first. I was expecting this oversight to be corrected as I boarded; it wasn't. I guess I owe an apology to some platinum out there!

Treatment on board
This experience was the most surprising of all. FAs seem to focus on elite status and not the fare paid—no surprise there. Apparently, it's not common to find a 1k in the rear of the plane. I found that I was treated like some sort of victimized refugee. I got used to hearing the expression "you're my 1k." I was sometimes asked why I was so far back, etc. In summary, I learned the further back you sit, the better is the treatment. On long haul flights I often had or was offered an empty row. On flights to/from LHR, I was twice brought a meal from the front of the cabin—they really felt sorry for me! I was once even given pajamas: well, when asked if there was anything else I needed, I let the FA know that I missed out on pajamas on my last flight to SIN (this statement is accurate, everyone in coach did); he came back ten minutes later with two pajamas he found, presumably in the Polaris cabin of the B789. Customer service on United is great. 😊

Going forward, I wouldn't use a BE fare on a business trip; however, it's not the horrific experience that I once built it up to be. Treatment as a 1k is better on a BE fare.

I will be more ecumenical in terms of departure airports—I have only used LAX. I will look at ONT, SNA and BUR for flights to Hawaii and MCO. I will also try and push the cpm cost to under four cents.
In summary, I recommend basic economy fares to elite travelers on United.
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 1:38 pm
  #7  
 
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What a great report! Although I don't anticipate needing to do any runs this year (and I'm not a 1K), there are many tidbits of useful information here that I will tuck away for future reference. This one is the most surprising and interesting to me:

FAs seem to focus on elite status and not the fare paid—no surprise there. Apparently, it's not common to find a 1k in the rear of the plane. I found that I was treated like some sort of victimized refugee. I got used to hearing the expression "you're my 1k." I was sometimes asked why I was so far back, etc. In summary, I learned the further back you sit, the better is the treatment
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 2:18 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Aug 2023
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Originally Posted by ZenFlyer
What a great report! Although I don't anticipate needing to do any runs this year (and I'm not a 1K), there are many tidbits of useful information here that I will tuck away for future reference. This one is the most surprising and interesting to me:
+1 to what he said but at a lower status (Silver and Gold). When I check in at the United Club, about 50% of the time, the agent forgot to see the "BASIC ECONOMY" written out on the boarding pass and reassigned my seat unsolicited. It's a small sample size (2/4) but happens. I haven't gotten CPUs or anything crazy, but maybe my experience as a Platinum will be different. I'll post about that in late Jan/early Feb. They've also been extra kind with rebooking during delays, issuing ETCs, etc. That $100 ETC seems very forthcoming as a catch-all solution when you have status lol.

That being said, 1Ks are lucky in that they get to preboard. It is awkward making small talk with the presumably frequent flyer next to you when you're in the Group 1 boarding line as to why you're seated on 44E. Or why you're in SFO for only 3 hours before returning to freezing Chicago in the middle of winter. Old school mileage runners are very rare.

Maybe not the best thread to ask but say you booked two back-to-back round trips on an itinerary XXX-YYY-XXX-YYY for a mileage run, and your flight during the first XXX-YYY gets disrupted. Could the airline forgo the entire second XXX-YYY portion and just say their obligation is to get you to YYY (not necessarily twice) since that's the final destination? If so, can you claim Original Routing Credit on the entire itinerary for PQP, PQF, and BIS?
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 3:59 pm
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MM_someday
Maybe not the best thread to ask but say you booked two back-to-back round trips on an itinerary XXX-YYY-XXX-YYY for a mileage run, and your flight during the first XXX-YYY gets disrupted. Could the airline forgo the entire second XXX-YYY portion and just say their obligation is to get you to YYY (not necessarily twice) since that's the final destination? If so, can you claim Original Routing Credit on the entire itinerary for PQP, PQF, and BIS?
It’s a good question. I’ve never run into that issue, though I’ve booked back-to-back tickets many times. I’d say it’s likely agent dependent. As it’s a nonrefundable ticket, the reflex answer is probably “no,” but maybe United would be flexible if the issue was their fault.

There’s a few things I did in anticipation of doing these mileage runs: I signed back up for the Amex Platinum card and I rejoined the United Club. I dropped the card in 2022, as I had made seven attempts to get into the SFO CL lounge and only succeeded once. I gave up on the UCs a few years ago, as they were always too crowded. The Amex card is useful for the travel insurance, access to Priority Pass lounges, the CL network (which has improved apart from LAX) and a few other credits. The United Clubs have improved by leaps and bounds since I left. On these mileage runs, I usually eat at lounges (airport and hotels).

I started this mileage run craze in April 2018 and completed 53 by December 2019. I picked back up again September of last year with MR054 to MR073. MR074 will happen in just over a week. I’ve booked a day trip to KOA on February 9, which will be MR084. I’m really getting great value out of the Amex card and UC membership! 😊
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 4:14 pm
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Originally Posted by ContinentalFan
It’s a good question. I’ve never run into that issue, though I’ve booked back-to-back tickets many times. I’d say it’s likely agent dependent. As it’s a nonrefundable ticket, the reflex answer is probably “no,” but maybe United would be flexible if the issue was their fault.
Is that a "no" for ORC (BIS/PQP/PQF)? I'm assuming it's an issue on United or a weather delay that causes me to miss a flight on one of the legs, thereby putting the entire trip in jeopardy. I've got the same Amex Plat + UC combo and it's great. I'm 2/2 on CL in SFO - it lets me take showers and opens at 5 AM, which is a godsend. It's a pity UCs don't have showers outside of Polaris.. I think a couple do in IAH and EWR but not sure.
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Old Jan 6, 2024, 10:51 pm
  #11  
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Originally Posted by MM_someday
Is that a "no" for ORC (BIS/PQP/PQF)? I'm assuming it's an issue on United or a weather delay that causes me to miss a flight on one of the legs, thereby putting the entire trip in jeopardy. I've got the same Amex Plat + UC combo and it's great. I'm 2/2 on CL in SFO - it lets me take showers and opens at 5 AM, which is a godsend. It's a pity UCs don't have showers outside of Polaris.. I think a couple do in IAH and EWR but not sure.
If I were in the position I’d assume the answer would be “no,” which creates only upside. If the first flight were I. A different carrier, I’d say United might not be as sympathetic; however, if United were at fault, I’d hope they’d take that point into consideration and offer compensation. Offering PQPs, PQFs and LT miles would be inexpensive for the carrier, particularly as it’s a non refundable ticket for a seat they get to sell twice.
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Old Jan 7, 2024, 2:32 pm
  #12  
 
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Highly doubt anyone's gonna do this but posting for funsies. Can sandwich Y/N mixed cabin fares on Swiss with Z fares on EgyptAir for a $2584, 5950 PQP, 8 PQF mileage run requiring 3 nights stay in Guangzhou. Also generates 41k miles if you have no status with United, with an extra 5K per status level upto 60K for 1K folks.

Lots of long layovers which could be a blessing or a curse. Individually it appears that the mixed cabin deal on LX requires at least 4 nights of stay in JNB, and the business class deal on MS requires at least 2 nights of stay in CAN and booking through an OTA.

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Old Jan 8, 2024, 8:50 am
  #13  
 
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Originally Posted by ContinentalFan
I flew a total of 220,445 miles involving 70 segments in BE;
That is a lot of flights in BE. I attempted a few MRs in BE many years ago. I had luck to avoid middle seats or E- seats. I do not think that I was treated better as 1K in the back part of the cabin. My go-to trips during the MR days/years were the open-jaw China trips (UA, USA to China OJ from $303 ai), which helped to reach 3MM status. I have no intention to achieve 4 MM via MR because the additional benefits of GS are not huge to me. I have no trouble using the PPs for my wife and me.
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Old Jan 8, 2024, 2:56 pm
  #14  
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Originally Posted by Kmxu
That is a lot of flights in BE. I attempted a few MRs in BE many years ago. I had luck to avoid middle seats or E- seats. I do not think that I was treated better as 1K in the back part of the cabin. My go-to trips during the MR days/years were the open-jaw China trips (UA, USA to China OJ from $303 ai), which helped to reach 3MM status. I have no intention to achieve 4 MM via MR because the additional benefits of GS are not huge to me. I have no trouble using the PPs for my wife and me.
.

I wish those open jaw trips to China would come back!
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Old Jan 13, 2024, 10:08 pm
  #15  
 
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If somebody was in Europe in February to April and crediting flights to United - there are several dates where you could nest a ticket from Larnaca (LCA) to Dublin (DUB) inside a ticket from Lisbon (LIS) to Larnaca (LCA) in "business class".

LIS-LCA is as low as $416 roundtrip
LCA-DUB is as low as $435 roundtrip

Here's an example from Feb 21 to Feb 25 - $866 total for both flights - 9945 miles flown - 1989 PQP (Cost per PQP - 43.54 cents USD - not great, but not bad for business class)
https://www.google.com/travel/flight...dL9F89NMwULtQ7
https://www.google.com/travel/flight...ai2TkUMRca4ez7

LIS-LCA
Spoiler
 


LCA-DUB
Spoiler
 
.
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